'Lola Montès' Joins the AFS Traveling Circus Series in July


Martine Carol in Lola Montès

German filmmaker Max Ophüls directed such acclaimed titles as The Earrings of Madame de... and La Ronde, but his last film, Lola Montès, stands out from the rest.  For one, it's the only Technicolor movie he made, with vibrant colors popping on the screen. Secondly, the flashback technique he chose to use in this film irked his production company so that they altered the cut shown to audiences in 1956. In recent years, a cut much closer to Ophüls' original vision has been restored and released to the public. Finally, Lola Montes has all the best qualities of an Ophüls film -- in CinemaScope.

This fictionalization of the life of historic figure Montes, an Irish dancer/courtesan who enchanted such men as Franz Liszt and King Ludwig I, has a ringmaster (Peter Ustinov, speaking French!) as a sort of narrator, with Ms. Montes (Martine Carol) walking a tightrope and performing death-defying acts under a big top as her tale is told. Ustinov's ringmaster assures the audience onscreen and off that they are being told the "truth" of her life.

Ophüls layers the story both narratively (flashbacks on top of current sequences) and visually, creating a sumptuous spectacle. He plays with our sense of space as characters run up and down floors in an opera house, or turn around on a carousel-type-gizmo on a circus floor. At times the director narrows our focus by blurring out the sides of the screen.

Your chance to see the fantastic Lola Montès in 35mm on the big screen comes in July, when Austin Film Society screens the film as part of its Traveling Circus series.  Except for the Gutman shorts, the movies in this series are showing at AFS at the Marchesa.  Ticket prices range from $8-12, depending on whether or not you are a member of AFS, or would like to donate a little extra toward the AFS at the Marchesa campaign.

Here's the full Traveling Circus schedule:

Yoyo (1965)
Wed. July 3 at 8 pm and Sun. July 7 at 2 pm
Clown Pierre Étaix plays two roles (Yoyo of the title and a millionaire) in this newly restored French comedy. Trailer below:

Lola Montès (1955, 35mm)
Fri. July 12 at 8 pm and Sun. July 14 at 7 pm

Viva Maria! (1965, 35mm)
Fri. July 19 at 8 pm and Sun. July 21 at 7 pm
Louis Malle directs Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau, whose turn-of-the-last-century characters accidentally "invent" striptease while performing their cabaret act and then join a rebellion in Central America.

Circus Girls: Three Circus Films of Walter Gutman (various, 16mm)
Mon. July 22 at 8 pm (at AFS screening room)
Three 16mm film shorts about female circus workers made by stock market analyst/filmmaker Walter Gutman will be screened. A rare opportunity!

Santa Sangre (1989, 35mm)
Fri. July 26 at 10:15 pm
A dark and twisted thriller about a confused man, raised in the circus by a knife-throwing dad and a cult-leader mom, who comes to be obsessed with vengeance for past wrongs. Looks like there's blood and gore in this one; on the ticket page, AFS warns it's "Not for the weak!"

[Still from Lola Montès via Vinyl Is Heavy]